Bollywood stars discuss ways to win the Oscar

“Do you remember the last U.N. speech? You most probably don’t … but I am sure you would remember that dialogue from Sholay …or even the classic mere paas maa hai dialogue from Deewaar … if we are important enough for our dialogues to be remembered, then I think we are important enough for some of us to represent the country in a sort of ambassadorial role,” declared superstar Amitabh Bachchan to an enthralled audience that included a smattering of politicians, writers and artists at the “NDTV summit solutions,” a day-long conclave, on Friday.

Mr. Bachchan was joined on stage by movie stars Waheeda Rahman, Shah Rukh Khan, who arrived fashionably late, and musician A.R. Rahman.

A panel discussion on “How can India win Oscars as well as leverage the considerable global impact of Bollywood?” led to many questions on everything from the changing identity of Indian cinema to the business of catering to a global audience, vulgar portrayal of women in films and movies being a soft target for “hurt sentiments.”

“Only in movies … the villain is always punished, the good always wins over the evil and poetic justice is meted out within three hours … an individual sometimes cannot get this even in a lifetime,” said Mr. Bachchan before talking about how the position of women had changed behind the scenes.

“Earlier, on the sets there would be two ladies — the leading lady and her escort, who was mostly her mother. Now around 80 per cent of them are women and they are young and capable, handling everything from costumes to cameras,” he said, adding many other things had also changed — how Indian cinema was received abroad for instance. “Till the 80’s we were usually made fun of when we performed our song and dance routines in the West, and to our credit we didn’t change … and now it is exactly this which is celebrated.”

Shah Rukh Khan felt that the uniqueness of Indian cinema had to be preserved. But no globalisation was possible until global sentiments could also be accommodated. In the absence of people willing to make partnerships and collaborate, Indian cinema could never really become bigger. “It is wrong, the division between the ‘commercial’ and the ‘intellectual,’ the ‘art’ and the ‘commercial’ or ‘single screen’ and ‘multiple screens.’ An ‘intellectual’ cannot say he will not collaborate with the ‘commercial’ because he will be ‘corrupted’. The intention is to tell a story. In the absence of collaborating, Indian cinema will never be globalised,” he said, before getting up to dance — granting a request from the audience. He also exhorted the other celebrities to conclude the discussion with a dance.

A.R Rahman said: “I’ve been doing this a lot, the music I produce in South India is not acceptable in North India and what I produce is not acceptable in the West, sometimes.”

More In: Delhi